Sunday, July 4, 2010

An Update in Photos

Ever since Chrissie went to Heaven, I haven't been able to keep up with the blog as much as I prefer since Chrissie went to Heaven.  I've learned in some of my research and devotions about grieving that there's a period of time after the loss of a close loved one that one isn't really able to think and process and function in a "normal" capacity (the way the person functioned prior to the death of a close loved one).  I've read stories of people who lost their spouse who couldn't even find their way home from work, after traveling the same route for years.  I feel like I've been in a similar fog where I am able to function, but not think deeply.

Then God put a book in my path called Have Heart.  (Thank you so much to the reader who informed me of this book!)  If you've ever lost a loved one, particularly a child, I HIGHLY recommend this book.  It has been a wonderful resource to begin our healing journey, and it is filled with Truth of His Word as well as encouragement and personal testimonies from a family who has walked this path of learning to live again after their 17-year-old son went to Heaven after a tragic car accident.

Today is the 46th day since Chrissie went to live with Jesus.  I feel like the fog is beginning to lift.  That doesn't mean that we've stopped missing Chrissie, it just means that we're learning a new normal, by the grace of our awesome God.   Sawyer, Mattie and Meribeth are all attending a bereavement camp this weekend (July 2-5).  (Our other kiddos didn't fall in the correct age requirements for the camp.)  I pray that this camp will help them to take the next step on their grief journey, as we all pray for God's guidance, strength and healing hand to lead us down this path.

I've been wanting to update the blog with photos to document the joy that Jesus has faithfully given us, just as He promised, as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  Nothing can rob us of joy as true joy is found in Him, and for that, we are most grateful.

Now that I feel like I'm about a month and a half behind on blogging, it's a bit overwhelming to figure out where to start again.  There's so much I want to share, but it's kind of like scrapbooking...when you've not scrapbooked in a really long time, it's hard to know where to begin.

So, I thought I'd begin by showing some pictures from the last couple of months.  I think that may be the most efficient way of feeling like I'm catching up on life.  Hopefully I'll be able to be more diligent with blogging from now on, but if I'm not, I assure you that we are experiencing joy, but I may not always have the opportunity to record it.  I try to stay off the computer while our kids are awake, which means most of my updates are done late at night.  My husband was battling a kidney stone for a couple of weeks (which ended up having to be surgically removed on June 29), so I've been helping him and much of his pain occurs at night, so I've not been on the computer much at all recently.

I had hoped to write to all of you on June 20, 2010:  Father's Day, but I couldn't get the words out.  I was still having a hard time writing as I just really didn't know what to say.  Father's Day was a hard day, but also one filled with joy.  While our Christyn Joy wasn't physically with us this Father's Day with her precious dimple, chubby cheeks, contagious laugh, sweet smile, big hugs, and lots of love to share with all of us, her spirit of joy lives on and brought us all joy, even as we grieved not having Chrissie present to celebrate Father's Day 2010.  God was sure to surround us with His joy, the joy that only comes from Him, along with a peace that surpasses all understanding.  We shed tears on Father's Day, yet we also shared many laughs, hugs, and lots of "I Love You's".  I've read that holidays are really hard to get through when we lose a close loved one.  Father's Day was our first "holiday" without Chrissie.  I feel like God helped us through one holiday, and I know without a doubt that He will see us through the others, faithfully holding our hands and our hearts.

I know many of you are wondering about Kiefer and Nahomie.  Both are doing GREAT.  I continue to be blown away by God's goodness.  We have come to realize that while many obtain what they call "joy" in material things, God's gift of joy to our family is our children.  God is the source of joy, and His chosen children are the vessels through which He pours His joy into our family. 

"Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him."  Psalm 127:3 (NLT)

Now, here is a glimpse of our lives over the past couple of months, in photos.  (If I write anything about the photos, I will record it UNDER the photo.)

On Sunday, May 16, 2010 (just 3 days before Chrissie went to Heaven), God blessed us with an opportunity to meet with Steven Curtis Chapman at Seaworld.  This was part of God's plan in bringing hope to our family through the personal testimony of Steven Curtis Chapman and his experience in his adopted daughter, Maria Sue, going to Heaven on May 21, 2008, at the age of 5 in a tragic accident.  This photo is of our kiddos with Caleb, the son of Steven Curtis Chapman, who now has his own band that ROCKS!

Steven Curtis Chapman.  God's source of inspiration and hope to our family even before He took Chrissie Home.  If any of you are grieving, we highly recommend Steven Curtis Chapman's newest CD, Beauty Will Rise.

At the Steven Curtis Chapman concert, Daddy purchased all of his girls "Princess" t-shirts.  Steven Curtis Chapman signed our shirts, and this is a snapshot of Chrissie's shirt.  It says, "God bless you.  You are a precious treasure!  Steven Curtis Chapman".  (Daddy and Chrissie's last dance on earth was to Steven Curtis Chapman's song, "Cinderella".)  The back of this shirt says, "The dance will go on...", and it does.  Thank you, Steven Curtis Chapman, for meeting with our family and for hugging my husband's neck with a tender, genuine hug that only two dads united by God and grief could possibly exchange.

Kiefer is THRIVING!!!  He is such a happy little guy who brings much joy, love, and action to our family!

Kiefer celebrated his 2nd birthday on May 20, 2010.  The day after Chrissie went to Heaven.  Friends from church brought Kiefer a Spiderman cake and some presents, too!

After Chrissie's visitation.

Parker celebrated his 14th birthday on May 25, 2010.  This was the worst birthday of Parker's life, having buried his sister's body on the day before his special day.  Yet God enabled Parker to smile as we sang him "Happy Birthday", and we were so grateful for the Coca Cola cake that friends from church brought to Parker.  (Coca Cola cake is Parker's favorite cake!)

Kiefer loves to wear Daddy's belt with the BIG belt buckle.  The belt wraps around his waist twice!  He especially enjoys sporting his cowboy diaper look!

Brothers.  I love sleeping child photos.  Kiefer is totally sprawled out across Sawyer, both peacefully sleeping.

Mattie and Kiefer at Parker's Wrangler Jr. High State Rodeo competition at the beginning of June.

The kiddos enjoying the air conditioned camper, looking out the back window, at the rodeo action.

Cowboy Kiefer and PawPaw (my dad) at Parker's rodeo (in our camper).

This photo is a treasure for me.  This was taken at one of Sawyer's All-Star baseball games in June.  Kiefer is sucking on a Blow-Pop in his daddy's arms.  The scripture on Matt's shoulder says, "Speak up for those with no voice."  Proverbs 31:8a.

Sawyer playing catcher for his All-Star team.

Parker and Meribeth sharing a chair at one of Sawyer's baseball games.

Kiefer loves brownie batter, just like Chrissie always did.

Parker caught a crawfish in the stream by the baseball fields in Austin, so Matt was showing it to Kiefer.  Kiefer did NOT LIKE this critter!!!

Another brownie batter pic.  (Sorry, photos are out of order and I'm too lazy to fix them!!!)

Sweet hand of our sweet Haitian boy!

Parker with his new pup, Red Ryder, and Sawyer with his new pup, Blue Bell.  Both dogs were adopted from local shelter/rescue organizations. 

Some good friends of mine, Julie and Bonnie, hosted a tea party for us.  Julie (AKA "Martha Stewart" carved and created this watermelon fruit girl!

Meeting Nahomie at the airport, June 19, 2010.  Welcome sweet girl!!!

The family welcoming Nahomie at the airport.  (Sawyer isn't in this photo because he was playing in an All-Star baseball game.)

Sisters.  (Meribeth and Nahomie at the airport.)

Kiefer loves to rope!  (His brothers and daddy team rope, so Kiefer is determined to learn to rope as well!)

Nahomie's first night home, enjoying our swimming pool with a night swim!

Father's Day 2010:  Kiefer and Daddy.

Father's Day 2010.  Sawyer and his rockin' dad!

Although Chrissie wasn't physically present on Father's Day, her presence was felt.  As I handed Daddy his Father's Day gift from Chrissie, we both wept.

But God turned our tears of sadness into smiles of joy.  Everyone stayed in their PJ's most of the day and we enjoyed wonderful family fellowship.

"You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.  You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy."  Psalm 30:11 (NLT)

Even Daddy busted a move on Father's Day 2010, kidney stone and all!

Belly Bump!

Kiefer wasn't sure what to think of all the dancing, but he asked Mattie to dance with him!

Twist and Shout!

Buckshot enjoyed the family fellowship, as always!

Kiefer grabbed Nahomie's hand and asked her to dance, too!  Nahomie had only been with our family for one night! :-)

Such sweet sisters!  Mattie, Nahomie, and Meribeth.

Well, that brings us almost up to date.  There's always so much I'd like to share and so little time.  Kiefer is awake from his nap now.  Hopefully I'll be diligent with future blog posting! 


Tay said...

Lorraine, this post brings me to both tears of saddness and joy. It is so evedent that Chrissie is watching over you and sending down heavens love! I love the photos of ya'll dancing! prayers are being sent your way! xoxox

Devon said...

Beautiful post Lorraine! Your family is such an inspiration for me... I love reading your blog posts. Absolutely love them. We think about Chrissie a lot here... what a blessing her life was. It was wonderful to see an update on your family. Thank you for writing such inspirational posts that bring us all closer to God.

"Are These Kids All Yours?" said...

What a beautiful post. It is good to see your family photos and know that our God is healing.....and will continue to heal! We know God is our ultimate healer!!!!

Sophie said...

Beautiful photos of a beautiful family. I think about you often and you are in my prayers. You are a courageous woman and an inspiration to many. God bless you.

Anna said...

SO wonderful to read your update and see all these beautiful photos of your family! And to hear how God is strengthening you to get through each new day.
Hope that the camp went well for your kids who went too Lorraine and that it is helpful for them.

Its wonderful to see the joy that Kiefer and Nahomie have brought into your family and to hear they are settling in so well.
Love the photos of them all dancing...they're really great to see.

Will continue to pray for you all Lorraine.
Love Anna xx

Anonymous said...

Thank you for bringing us up to date on your news and all the photos. I have been wondering how Kiefer and Nahomie are getting on. Kiefer looks such a are going to have your hands full with that mischief look :-)

I hope Matt recovers quickly from his kidney stones and op...I know all about the pain kidney stones can cause...oooowww!

I am also glad to hear that the fog is going to lift.

Hugs, Rachel

Maggie in NC said...

Thank You, Lorraine, for sharing. I think of your family so often and was more than happy to see the smiles on everyones faces. Thank you.

Jo's Corner said...

I am SO Happy to see you all experiencing His Joy and Healing! I just love your family SO much! Thank You, for the update! Hugs from MN.!! JO

Anonymous said...

May God continue to pour out His tender mercies upon you & your family. You are richly blessed & loved with such a precious family & heart for the Lord. We keep you all in our prayers. You all have blessed our lives.
Georgette~homeschooling mama to 5 gifts from God

Marjorie said...

A beautiful post. Take your time. There is no rush back to full-speed-ahead.

Angel said...

I think you did a FANTASTIC job of catching us up. I am amazed by how much you are functioning. I know that must be God's grace. Your family is precious and beautiful. I continue to pray for healing for each one of your hearts. Angel

Anonymous said...

Our children are sweet gifts, they bless our lives. Even when we feel like we are broken our children give us strength to carry on. Hold your memories close but carry on making more. All our children deserve to smile, laugh and love. You are amazing parents.

Laurel said...

So good to see all of the pics, and to see that the Lord is bringing you through your time of grief.

We saw Stephen Curtis Chapman in concert last summer, just one month after our most unimaginable crisis began, and he sang that song for the first time, publicly. Oh how it ministered to our hearts.

You are oh so right when you say that the world looks to "things" to bring them happiness and joy, while the Lord has given us children to see pure joy in. Glad that the Lord is giving much JOY in the midst of much pain.


Laurel :)

Linnea said...

I love all the pictures. I think of you and Chrissie at least a few times a week. Today was one of those days. I was at my morning Beth Moore Bible study when she said (its late so I am not quoting right)that death is the enemy last thing he can try to threaten us with but when we chose to find some sort of joy in that he loses! Ok, that was just butchering her beautiful words. I will find the quote and write it for you. I got what she meant, I thought of you all. How you could totally be mad at God and stay in bed and not ever get up again but instead you praise Him in this storm, you lift your hands and say Amen, its still raining. Your strength is admirable. I hope to never have to follow your example or have anyone else ever do but you just you got it! You are a woman after God's own heart, you are inspiring.
I wanted to also say that your story touched me so much I told my daughters. At my daughters 6th birthday party it was the day of Chrisses funeral and my little girl went out to the front yard with me and she sent all of her birthday balloons up to heaven for Chrissie. Just Friday she came over to me and said I feel bad that little girl Chrissie died, why did she die Mom? Oh man I have never had to deal with this before I told her about Chrissie and her heart. The next day my daughter Charidy got her name written in the lambs book of life in a tent as we were on a family camping trip. I never wanted to tell my kids about death. I hid my best friends death from them because I could barely handle it and didnt want to put them through that, but Chrissie was different, her pictures were beautiful and I wanted to show my girls. I am glad I did. I am glad my 6yr old remembers from may talking about a little girl that went to be with Jesus and still thinks about her in her princess dress. Your family and your life is so inspiring. I pray God blesses you more and more. Hugs.

be blessed

dw.roberts said...

Lorraine, looking at the pix of Kiefer, I can't wait until our two-year old Velo gets home! You and Melissa will need to get those two together! He's just a month older than Kiefer. You guys are awesome and we serve an awesome God. Thanks for the inspirational post. It's a blessing for our family to have been brought together with these HCRM-adopting families. Praying for y'all.
Dean and Melissa

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